Celebrating Older Americans Month in May – “Aging Their Way”

May is recognized as Older Americans Month and this year’s theme is “Age My Way” with a focus how seniors can plan to live safely and comfortably in their homes and communities for as long as possible. This is a core belief within the JFCS Senior Service program making us especially excited to share how we help our seniors age their own way. 

What is Older Americans Month? 

The Administration for Community Living leads the national observance of Older Americans Month (OAM). OAM was established by President Gerald Ford in 1976 to recognize the contributions of older adults across the country and raise awareness of the needs specific to the aging demographic. 

The 2022 theme for OAM is “Aging My Way” which provides an opportunity to highlight the many way older adults can safely remain in their communities in their golden years and the value they bring in being involved. 

How does JFCS help seniors age their own way? 

Aging-in-place support is one of the core focus areas of our senior service department. JFCS believes all individuals are entitled to their right to live their golden years as they choose. Our care managers help navigate the maze of senior care and assist seniors in making the best decisions for care, safety and comfort such as how to safely age in their homes, how to make informed decisions about assisted living, in-home care and plan for long-term medical, financial, and legal situations. Our team of geriatric care managers are here to serve as advocates for our clients, ensuring their needs are heard by family, caregivers, friends, doctors and professionals. 

Beyond care management, JFCS even offers specific senior nutrition programs to ensure that older adults have access to nutritious food on a regular basis, further enhancing their quality of life in their later years. 

What our seniors say is “aging their way”…

Making connections to help seniors who feel isolated… 

The JFCS Friendly Caller & Visitor Program matches volunteers and seniors who feel more isolated or vulnerable, whether due to being homebound, living alone, or other circumstances. When COVID-19 forced many more seniors into isolation for their health & safety, JFCS continued this program matching more volunteers with more seniors.  

Two volunteers shared their perspective on what these regular connections have meant to them, and the senior they connect with. 

Volunteer Michael says… 

I’ve fostered a deep, meaningful, and humorous relationship through my friendly, weekly calls with Ms. Jane. Our calls are centered around positivity, compassion, and encouragement, whether it be a new hobby or to explore a new museum. This has greatly abated the fear of isolation and promoted social connection.  

Ms. Jane looks forward to our weekly calls, to the point where the excitement and enthusiasm is palpable; an experience that is beyond rewarding. 

Volunteer Judith says… 

I continue to speak with Ruth weekly. Our conversations have no topic; we speak as two friends about family, books, happenings in our lives, and reminiscences. She picks the topics, sets the tone and pace. I follow her direction. 

I know Ruth feels lonely, and our talks provide relief each week. I can tell that she looks forward to and enjoys our conversations, for she says so repeatedly and thanks me each week. 

*all names changed for confidentiality

What to Expect When Hiring a Home Care Agency

If you are considering hiring an aide, you or a loved one has likely had a recent injury, surgery or illness. You may require assistance with personal care, ambulating or being transported safely in addition to needing help with meals.

Think about the kinds of things you expect from the caregiver:
  • Do you want the person to take initiative in doing chores/tasks or should the caregiver only follow your instructions?
  • Would you prefer someone who enjoys conversation or would you prefer to be left alone?
  • Try to think outside the box with tasks that are not hands-on care (such as dressing, bathing and toileting}. The aide could straighten up the bathroom, change your bed linens and do laundry, help prep or actually prepare a meal for later, pick up groceries at the market, go to the pharmacy, etc.
  • Try to be as specific as possible about the schedule that would work best for you- keep in mind the number of hours in the “block” of time and how many days/week and which days you prefer. Schedules are generally not set in stone.  Health needs are ever-changing and schedules can change with the needs.  Usually, agencies need 24-48 hours’ notice to implement any changes.  Any changes in schedule must go through the office, not the caregiver.  Call the home care agency to report any difficulties you experience in the adjustment to having a caregiver.

When matching an aide to a client, it does help to know as much as possible.  Understand that the caregiver and you may take several days to settle into a routine and that the first day may not be a good reflection on how good the match is.  Agencies will do the best they can to match an aide based on skill set and caregiver availability to meet your needs.  A creative solution, such as slightly different hours, may be offered by the agency if the caregiver they think would be best has availability that slightly differs from your initial request.

Since the pandemic, many agencies now require a minimum of 16-20 hours per week of care due to the high demand for caregivers; many have had to increase their hourly rate from approximately $26 to $30, and many have increased the hourly block from 3 or 4 hours to 6-hour shifts.  The minimum number of days care is given may have also been adjusted due to availability of staff.  If you have a request for a shorter block of time or less frequency, you may have a greater turnover in aides being assigned to your care.  In general, the more hours and days per week, the more consistent the caregiver.  Each agency sets its own policy regarding rates and minimum care.

Not all agencies require their caregivers/staff to be vaccinated.  We advise you to inquire about the status of your caregiver.  Please know that the agencies do provide masks, gloves and sanitizers for their aides to use.

Generally, most agencies do not bring caregivers to your home to be “interviewed” prior to the assignment.  The agency will match the best caregiver to your needs and if the match does not meet your expectations after several days, the agency will do its best to make any necessary changes.  Most aides do not have interviewing experience and may not present his or her best version of oneself in that type of setting.  If you are being discharged from a rehab setting, the agency can, in most cases, bring the aide to the facility for “training” by the PT department regarding any specific needs.

Following a hospitalization or rehabilitation stay, the agency may recommend having “round the clock” care for the first few days.  This means you will be billed the hourly rate x 24, per day.  The benefit of this is that your overnight needs can be evaluated so that you are safe, especially if there is concern about being a fall risk or having impaired sleep and needing care throughout the night.  The agency will generally arrange for (2) 12-hour shifts, or (3) 8 hour shifts of aides.  Once it is determined that you or your loved one is not at risk of falling at night, or is able to sleep through the night, the schedule can be adjusted to your needs.

If you require a caregiver who has his/her own car or has a driver’s license (and can drive your car) to do errands, take you to a doctor appointment, etc., please tell the agency.  Not all aides have a car and/or a driver’s license.

If you need a live-in caregiver, keep in mind the caregiver needs to sleep and cannot work “round the clock”.  Live-in aides are required to have 5 hours of consecutive hours of sleep, with 8 hours total per night, as mandated by labor laws.  If the client needs brief help more than once or twice nightly, additional overnight support may be necessary; either a second aide can be added to remain awake overnight or two twelve hour shifts of care may need to be implemented in lieu of live-in care.

If you have a live-in caregiver, you will need to provide a separate room for him/her for sleeping in addition to providing food.  Any unusual or special dietary requests by the caregiver are not your responsibility to provide.

Most agencies will charge time-and-a-half on holidays.

If you have a pet in the house, you need to inform the home care agency and do not assume that the caregiver will take care of your pet (walk, feed, clean litter box, etc.).

We hope you find this information useful.  If you would like to speak to a geriatric care manager, please contact JFCS at 609-987-8100.

Beth Hammer, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager
Andrea Gaynor, LCSW Geriatric Care Manager
Beverly Mishkin, LCSW Director of Senior Services

The Commencement of Tax Season – and Scams

NJCCIC Alert about Tax Season Scams

The federal tax filing season began this week and threat actors are quickly targeting taxpayers. The NJCCIC observed phishing campaigns attempting to be delivered to New Jersey State employees, with the intent to download and install malware. Threat actors spoofed the sender’s display name to a known source or entity to convince the recipient to trust the email without verifying its legitimacy. The sender’s display name is purported to be from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS); however, upon further inspection, the sender’s domain name was “irs.com” instead of the legitimate “irs.gov.” Additionally, the email signature claimed to be the “Government department” in the IRS to add a false sense of legitimacy and authority.

The subject line displayed “Information Regarding Your Tax Form” to convince their target to open the email and take action. Although the email referenced an attached “TAXFORM.pdf,” it contained an attached Microsoft Word name “Tax Form.doc” that, if clicked, downloads and installs malware. In addition to the IRS, threat actors may also spoof popular tax brands to trick their victims into divulging sensitive information, which can then be used to file fraudulent tax returns, collect refunds, and engage in other identity theft schemes. Additionally, companies required to provide customers with tax documents may also be impersonated in attempts to convince victims into opening malicious links or attachments.

The NJCCIC recommends users and organizations educate themselves and others on these continuing threats and tactics to reduce victimization. The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages, or social media channels to send or request personal or financial information. Please review the NJCCIC Product Beware of Tax Scams to learn more about common tax scams—including tax identity theft, IRS impersonation scams, and fraudulent tax preparer scams—and cybersecurity best practices to help protect your identity, data, and tax refunds. Additional tax scams and consumer alerts can be found on the IRS website.


August 21 is Senior Citizen’s Day! Celebrating Seniors

August 21 is Senior Citizen’s Day, recognized across the country as a day to celebrate our seniors. JFCS celebrates and supports older adults here in our Mercer community all year round – the retirees who serve as dedicated volunteers, the Holocaust Survivors who are staying connected through technology, the older adults who join in our weekly group to help each other through this difficult time, the seniors across the community who are aging independently in their homes.

In honor of Senior Citizen’s Day, we are sharing resources, information and groups tailored for our senior community.

Connecting with your elderly loved ones…

Looking for Senior Resources?

Support for Seniors

  • Join our weekly Social Support Group, designed for older adults to connect during a time of social distancing and isolation. Register to join weekly.
  • For Jewish seniors, the upcoming holidays may be a lonely time, and we’re offering special programs to address some of the emotional challenges you may face during this time.
  • Are you a Caregiver? If you are caring for a spouse with chronic illness, join our upcoming Caregiver Support Group beginning Sept 15. Click to learn more & register.

JFCS & Beth El Seniors Present: Celebrate Chanukah!

Description: Join special guest Rabbi Jay Kornsgold for a fun pre-Chanukah celebration.  Rabbi Jay will speak about the miracles of Chanukah as well as the debate on whether there should be a menorah on government property during the holiday.  You can take part in a gift exchange by bringing a wrapped gift costing between $6-$10.  We will also enjoy special refreshments for the holiday! 

Date: Thursday, December 12th at 1:00pm

Location: Beth El Synagogue (50 maple Stream Road, East Windsor)

RSVP is required by 12/9 to Beth Englezos at bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100, ext. 126 or call Beth El Synagogue at 609-443-4454. 

This program is sponsored by Beth El Seniors & JFCS.

Nosh & Knowledge: The Heart of the Middle East

Date: Thursday, September 26 at 12:30 p.m.

Location: Congregation Beth Chaim (329 Village Road East, West Windsor)

Description: Samuel Golinkin will join us this afternoon for a look at how the geopolitics of the Middle East impact Israel – and our world. He will focus on Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, sharing history, the present situation and his views of the future of this important area of the world.  A kosher lunch will be provided by Greenwood House and there is a requested donation of $5.00 per person. You may also bring your own kosher-style lunch. 

RSVP: Is required by 9/20 to Beth Englezos at bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100, ext. 126. This program is sponsored by Congregation Beth Chaim, Greenwood House & JFCS.

JFCS & The Beth El Seniors Present Miracle Meat Through Science


Date: Thursday, September 19 at 1:00 p.m.

Location: Beth El Synagogue (50 Maple Stream Rd., East Windsor

Description: Rabbi Matthew S. Nover of Beth El Synagogue will discuss the day when we make meat from nothing!  Would it be kosher?  Or would it even be meat?  Join us as we take a look at new frontiers in food, and see how science, food and Judaism all come together. 

RSVP: is required by 9/13 to Beth Englezos at bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100, ext. 126. Or call Beth El at 609-443-4454.  This program is sponsored by Beth El Seniors & JFCS.

Nosh & Knowledge Summer Reading Series: The Bread Givers

Description: This masterwork of American immigrant literature is set in the 1920s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and tells the story of Sara Smolinsky, the youngest daughter of an Orthodox rabbi, who rebels against her father’s rigid conception of Jewish womanhood. Sarah’s struggle towards independence and self-fulfillment resonates with a passion all can share. Bread Givers is an essential historical work with enduring relevance. A Kosher lunch will be provided by Greenwood House and there is a requested donation of $5.00 per person.

Book: The Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska

Date: Thursday August 22nd at 12:30pm

Location: Congregation Beth Chaim

RSVP: To Beth Englezos at Bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100 ext. 126 no later than 8/16

This program is sponsored by Congregation Beth Chaim, Greenwood House & JFCS. All programs are open to the community and we thank Greenwood House for preparing our Kosher lunches for the Summer Reading Series.

JFCS & The Beth El Seniors Club Presents Food & a Flick

Description: Join us for a dairy lunch and a movie! We will be watching either “The Book Club” or “When Harry Met Sally” depending on availability. Both flicks are really cute and fun!

Date: Thursday June 20th at 12:30pm

Location: Beth El (50 Maple Stream Road, East Windsor)

RSVP: Required to Beth Englezos at bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100 ext. 126 or call Beth El at 609-443-4454.

Nosh & Knowledge: Song of Songs, A Look at This Ancient Love Story

Description: Join us for an afternoon exploring the poetry and meaning in the beautiful text of Song of Songs. A kosher lunch will be provided by Greenwood House and there is a requested donation of $5.00 per person. You may also bring your own Kosher-style lunch.

When: Thursday May 23rd at 12:30pm

Location: Congregation Beth Chaim (329 Village Road East, West Windsor)

RSVP: No later than 5/17 to Beth Englezos at bethe@jfcsonline.org or 609-987-8100 ext. 126

*This program is sponsored by Congregation Beth Chaim, Greenwood House and JFCS*